Sunday, September 28, 2008

Return of the Whispering Gorilla

In the original pulp story The Whispering Gorilla a crime-victim had his brain transplanted into the body of a gorilla. After fighting crime while becoming something of a celebrity the hero suffered a brutal beating at the hands of the local police, causing brain damage which reverted his human brain to that of a wild animal. When last seen, the Whispering Gorilla was being returned to Africa and set free to live among other apes in the hope that he would at last find peace. What no one anticipated is that the injuries suffered by "W. G." were temporary and he soon regained his human intelligence.

In the February 1943 issue of Fantastic Adventures the tale Return of the Whispering Gorilla was published. In this issue "W.G." is found alive and well (as well as a human brain can be after being placed into the body of a giant primate) in Africa. "W.G." is still fighting crime though this time it isn't petty mobsters he is attacking. This time he is fighting the incursions of the organized criminal cabal of the Nazi invasion into Africa.

In the 1940 issue of Fantastic Adventures the story was credited to Don Wilcox. In the sequel three years later it is David V. Reed penning the story with "permission by Don Wilcox". While many pulp stories are hit-and-miss when it comes to quality the move from the Whispering Gorilla as a Shadow-like mystery man to an heroic defender of the realm is welcome. Any sequel that features a gorilla pummeling Nazis is automatically superior to the original entry.

BONUS! "Introducing the Author" page profiling David Reed and featuring Fantastic Adventures editor Julius Schwartz many years before his tenure at DC Comics.

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